All the moms in the group: raise your hands if you’ve scheduled your kids’ dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician, and allergist appointments for the next year, but have no idea when your own check-up is even due. Women in the workforce: how many lunch breaks have you sacrificed because a friend needed a chat or a ride, or a supervisor needed that report “right now?” If you have parents, neighbors or friends who count on you for help, chances are, you put their needs ahead of your own health endeavors in a heartbeat. As women, we tend to wear our mile-long list of obligations (and resulting exhaustion) like a badge of honor. In actuality, letting our own health take the backseat is doing a disservice to our loved ones. Not taking care of ourselves sends a message of self-unimportance to those looking up to us, and makes us less effective in support of those we care about.
For the last 17 years, the US Department of Health and Human Services has implemented and recognized National Women’s Health Week. The week-long observance runs May 8th through May 14th this year, and serves as a nation-wide encouragement to women to make their health a priority. While massage is beneficial for everyone, we’d like to zero in on the health benefits of massage for women in particular.
- Sleep on it. Massage has been proven to improve quality of sleep. Proper rest is vitally important for all of us. Sleep becomes even more important, and hard to achieve, if you’ve entered, or are about to enter, menopause or peri-menopause.
- Your immune system will thank you. With the wide array of germs that you come in contact with on a regular basis, your immune system could use a little bump. Because, let’s face it, when the many hats you wear go down for the count, it’s not pretty.
- Feeling stressed? We’ve got a massage for that. In a 2010 study reported by The New York Times, participants who received regular Swedish massage experienced decreases in cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and increased oxytocin (trust hormone) levels.
- Let it flow. Massage improves blood circulation, which benefits everything from your muscles and arteries to your organs. Proper circulation will help your memory stay sharp and your brain remain strong. It even helps your skin to be healthy.
- Massage helps keep the aches and pains away. If you’ve been the unlucky recipient of your dad’s arthritis, your mom’s scoliosis, or the constricted tendons that landed all over your family tree, you’re all-too familiar with the daily tightness and pain that comes with these body maladies. Receiving regular massage can help keep your muscles, joints and tendons loose and more supple. It can improve your range of motion and help to lengthen muscles contracted by knots and tight spots.